Level One Knitwear Designing, Make it Your Own

No, I am not officially a knitwear designer however the concept of designing knitwear, to me, has many levels.  When I think of top level knitwear designers, the people who come to mind are those who have had multiple original designs published in major knitting magazines.  Yarn companies hire these people to design using their yarns.  Then, there are the knitwear designers who design and sell from their own etsy shop, website, or the like.  You see many fledgling designers such as these on Ravelry.   And, then there are the knitters who have the ability to take a published pattern and make it their own with modifications, alterations, shape changing, yarn choice, color changing, to name a few ideas.   The later would best define where I am in the designing of my own hand knits.    With this particular project, this level one designer in me came out loud and clear.

Motivated to learn a new method called the two-tone cable technique, being taught at the local Guild, the sweater itself did not call to me so much.  Don’t get me wrong, it is a lovely pattern designed by Heather Lodinsky, I did not want a basic crew neck nor long, lacy sleeves.

So, I began to configure how I could re-design this pattern having the best of both worlds; learning this technique and having a garment in the end I would love.  Admittedly, the changes I wanted for this garment came quickly to me.

Design Plan

I don’t know if there is an order to the process of designing but in this instance,  the beautiful front and center cable was perfect inspiration for the long lean line I always try to obtain.  So, for that long lean look, all I had to do was extend the cable which led to tunic length. I thought  shaping at the side seams would make for a better fit.  I also knew side slits could be an option at the time of seaming.  I was drawn immediately to the idea of short sleeves with the cable pattern seen in the body to continue in the sleeves and that I would ditch the lacy fabric sleeves seen in the pattern.  I love details so I thought a provisional cast-on with an i-cord bind off would nicely frame the sweater and give it a bit of boldness at the edges where it is otherwise very soft looking.  I had the berroco lustra in my stash so the colors were pretty much chosen for me.

Use Resources for Help

Remember, I am not a designer and do not have all the measurements for different styles right at my finger tips.  Therefore, to help me in the tunic I wanted, I turned to my pattern stash, found a tunic length pattern with shaped sides in the weight of yarn I was using so used those directions and measurements for the shaping.  I give credit to Kate Davies and her exquisite eye for detail where I learned about provisional cast on with i-cord bind off when working on a different project.  Now I have that technique in my ‘tool kit’ so called upon it, here.

I could not understand the directions for the ribbing in the pattern so I used what I knew about corrugated ribbing.  I didn’t need to think about the slit along the side seams while I was knitting as slits are just seams that are not sewn closed.   So, really the major challenge came with the sleeves.

Well, I knew I wanted short sleeves.  I measured the diameter of my upper arm.  Knowing my gauge, I casted on x stitches per inch x no. of inches.  So, the corrugated ribbing fit just the way I wanted.  I knew I wanted the main cable pattern and at least one of the 4 stitch cross over patterns along either side of the main cable.  I knew I needed some more stitches for binding off along the selvage.  This gave me the number of stitches I needed in the first row after the ribbing.  Then,  I figured about two inches for the actual sleeve length (after ribbing and before armhole bind off) and needed to get to the number of stitches to follow the sleeve cap according to direction.  I knew I would be increasing and my gauge told me how many rows I had to do so.  I was home free, at point of armhole bind-off to follow the shape of the sleeve cap given in the pattern.  It became a mathematical computation to know how many rows to knit, when to decrease along the selvage to have the cap fit perfectly into the armhole seam of the body.  I sketched the shape of the cap out onto paper as it was a little tricky with the back of the cap sleeve shaped a bit differently than the front of it.

You can see some calculations and extraneous math.  Logic, math, and knitting skill came together for some lovely sleeves.  Gotta say, I am pleased.

Now, you can make plans till the cows come home but what you see in your mind’s eye might not always be what you see in person.  When I slipped on my sweater I was thrilled with all of the modifications I made except for one.  I felt the sweater was too long.

Change is Sometimes Needed

Did you ever know anyone who was a whiz at technology but the minute there is a screw-up cries for help?  Same with knitting.  The talent in any form comes if and when you are able to fix your own problem(s).  So, here I was with this ‘problem’.  Well, I thought . . . what do you see in ready-wear to help with shape, fit, and comfort?  Shirring!  That’s it!  I’ll shirr the side seams!  I took a crochet hook and worked 3 sc, (single crochet) chain 3 (for a little loop) 3 sc,, chain 3, repeat, along the inside of the side seam, threaded some durable narrow twill tape through the loops and pulled for fit.  Perfect!  And, I will flatten out when in storage so as not to wrinkle.

Celebrate by Wearing

I love my sweater.  I supported our Guild, it taught me this cable technique.  It served as design practice.  It was a perfect pattern for this yarn that was in my stash, and now it serves as a wearable garment for my wardrobe.